World English?: Literary Studies in the Age of Globalization
What is the future of literary studies in higher education? This question, which has been posed at other moments of dramatic cultural change, takes on a special urgency today in light of two new interrelated social phenomena: the rapid globalization of culture, on the one hand, and the increasing likelihood that college and university students who do study literature will only be interested—and able—to study in English. This lamentable fact can be traced in one of its more conspicuous consequences in American institutions of higher learning: the reduction, and sometimes the outright elimination, of programs and departments of foreign languages and literatures. In such instances, departments of English have had to provide virtually ALL the training in literary studies that students are likely to get. But these departments have not had the opportunity to theorize the nature of this exclusively English language literary study. This important task, then, will be the charge of this paper: to sketch both the philosophical and the practical questions facing literary scholars and teachers in this particular situation and then pose a series of (tentative) responses: How global is English (as a discipline)? What is the role of translation in literary studies? and, How may the many potential liabilities (both pedagogical and political) of a World English curriculum be anticipated and countered and effectively countered?
Howard Marchitello (United States)
Department of English
Texas A&M University
Professor Marchitello teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Shakespeare, early modern literature, travel writing, and, most recently, a special topics Honors course on adaptations of Shakespeare for young readers.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)